There’s a good reason why the Greek island of Ikaria, located in the far east of the Mediterranean, has been called “the island where people forget to die”.
On this tiny island exists a culture that’s rich in social traditions, age-old Greek food customs and valuable lessons on how to live a healthy and long life.
The unassuming island has been identified as a ‘Blue Zone’ – an area where its inhabitants are recognised for their longevity. The average age at death from natural causes in Ikaria is nearly 10 years higher than in other parts of the world, including Greece. “A combination of factors explain it, including geography, culture, diet, lifestyle and outlook,” reads the Blue Zones website, detailing the dietary and lifestyle factors behind Ikaria’s health-related fame.
“[Locals] enjoy strong red wine, late-night domino games and a relaxed pace of life that ignores clocks.” According to the Ikaria Study, a small-scale survey from the University of Athens in 2009, one-in-three Ikarians make it to their ninetieth birthday.
The island’s locals have low rates of dementia, obesity and hypertension. The study also unlocked a few of the island’s secrets to long life. The research found that the island’s inhabitants had high adherence to a Mediterranean diet.
“Additionally, healthy dietary habits seem to mediate the adverse effect of diabetes mellitus on aortic elastic properties in elderly individuals…,” the study reads. Locals ate a diet rich in olive oil, fish, coffee, herbal tea, honey, beans legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Although they did eat meat, sugar and most dairy products, they ate limited amounts. The older people living on the island also did habitual physical activity, had a noon siesta and engaged in lots of social activities.
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